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Good, Better, Best: Windows For Your Remodel

For many homeowners, a home remodel is an opportunity to replace a few (or even all) of your windows. However, when considering the different options, it can be difficult to understand which window type is best for your home. In this article, we’ll break down your window options in terms of good, better, and best.

As one of the Portland Metro Area’s most trusted remodeling companies, Lamont Bros. Design and Construction has helped hundreds of Portland families transform their homes. For many of our clients, new windows have been a part of this transformation. While selecting the type of window you want for your home isn’t always an easy choice, the final result can be gratifying. 

This article aims to give you an overview of the different window options available to you. We’ll present the different types of windows in terms of good, better, and best. Once you’ve finished reading, you’ll have a better idea of which types might work well for your home. The products we’ll discuss include:

Good Windows: Vinyl or Aluminium

The entry-level windows on the good, better, best scale are vinyl and aluminum. Both options offer a basic aesthetic with minimal customization or style options.

Vinyl: Affordable and Low Maintenance

Vinyl windows are a popular choice in the “good” category for several reasons:

Cost-Effectiveness: They are one of the most budget-friendly options available, ideal for homeowners looking to upgrade windows without a hefty investment.

Low Maintenance: Vinyl is resistant to rust and corrosion, and doesn’t require painting or staining, which means less upkeep.

Energy Efficiency: Most vinyl windows provide good insulation, helping to reduce energy bills.

Standard Sizing: Available in standard sizes, they ensure ease of installation and replacement.

However, vinyl windows do have limitations. They may not offer the same level of aesthetic versatility as other materials. They will also deteriorate over time, especially in extreme heat, which carries a risk of warping or cracking.

Portland garage conversion windows
Vinyl is the most widely used window material for new homes and renovations.

Aluminum: Durable and Modern

Aluminum windows, while also in the “good” category, have some distinct stylistic and functional advantages:

Durability: Known for their strength, aluminum windows can withstand harsh weather conditions and are not prone to rust or corrosion.

Modern Aesthetics: Aluminium windows offer a sleek, contemporary look that can enhance more modern architectural styles.

Recyclability: If you’re concerned about sustainability, aluminum is an environmentally friendly choice and is highly recyclable.

However, aluminum windows have their drawbacks. Their thermal conductivity can lead to less energy efficiency, potentially increasing heating and cooling costs. Because of this, some aluminum windows don’t meet construction code and cannot be used in residential structures. They also tend to promote moisture condensation, which can lead to problems such as mold and water intrusion in humid conditions. Additionally, the style and color options can be more limited compared to other materials.

Aluminum is low-cost, but lacks energy efficiency.

Better Windows: Fiberglass or Wood-Clad

When stepping up to the “better” category in window options, homeowners find a noticeable increase in durability, customization options, and aesthetic appeal. This category primarily includes fiberglass and wood-clad windows, offering a balance between performance, durability, and design.

Fiberglass: The Balanced Choice

Fiberglass windows are a popular choice due to their balance of quality and value. Here are some key features:

Durability: Fiberglass is known for its strength and longevity. It resists warping, rotting, and corrosion, making it a durable choice for various climates.

Energy Efficiency: With excellent insulation properties, fiberglass windows can help in reducing energy costs.

Aesthetics: These windows come in a range of colors and finishes, allowing for greater customization to match different home styles. They can even be made to resemble wood or metal. It’s also possible to paint fiberglass, so you can change their appearance if you want. 

Low Maintenance: Fiberglass does not require frequent painting or staining, contributing to its low-maintenance appeal.

The primary drawback of fiberglass windows is their cost, which is typically higher than the entry-level vinyl.  However, it’s important to also consider that it offers better long-term performance and a wider range of design options.

fiberglass windows
Fiberglass can be made to resemble other materials, and are also paintable.

Wood-Clad: The Aesthetic Upgrade

Wood-clad windows have a wooden core, but feature a protective cladding on the exterior to protect the wood from the elements. This cladding is typically made of vinyl, but may also feature aluminum.  This design feature provides the beauty of wood on the interior with the weather-resistant benefits of an exterior cladding. Here are some of its strengths:

Aesthetic Appeal: The interior wood finish adds warmth and a classic look to any home, making it a favorite for those seeking traditional charm.

Weather Resistance: The exterior cladding protects the window from elements, reducing maintenance and increasing longevity.

Energy Efficiency: Due to its naturally insulating wood core, wood-clad windows offer good insulation, helping in maintaining indoor temperature and reducing energy costs.

Long Lifespan: Wood windows, when properly maintained, can last over 20 years. With the additional protective cladding, the chances of them lasting a long time are even higher.

As with fiberglass, the downside of wood-clad windows is typically the cost, which can be higher due to the combination of materials and aesthetic appeal. Additionally, the wood component may require some upkeep over time to maintain its appearance.

Aluminum-clad wood window by Sierra Pacific Windows

Best Windows: Custom Wood or Metal

In the “best” category of windows, homeowners enter a realm of superior material quality, unparalleled customization, and exceptional design. This tier is characterized by the principle “if you can dream it, they make it.” The two main contenders in this category are wood and custom metal or steel windows.

Wood: Timeless Elegance

Wood windows are often considered the gold standard of window design, offering timeless beauty and classic elegance. Key aspects include:

Aesthetic Excellence: Wood provides a natural, classic appearance on the interior and exterior of your home. The visual appeal is unmatched by other window materials, enhancing the overall beauty of a home.

Customizability: Wood windows offer immense flexibility in design, size, and shape. With the right window maker, they can cater to the most specific architectural needs.

Energy Efficiency: Wood is a natural insulator, making these windows highly efficient in maintaining indoor temperatures. This not only reduces your heating and cooling bill but also adds to the lifespan of your heating and cooling systems by not making them work as much.

Longevity: With proper maintenance, wood windows can last for decades. By reducing the number of times you have to replace your windows, you’re adding to the value of the home.

The primary drawback of wood windows is their need for regular maintenance to prevent issues like rot and warping. Additionally, wood typically among the most expensive options, reflecting their premium status.

sustainable windows
Wood elevates the quality and aesthetic of a window.

Custom Metal: The Modern Architect’s Dream

Custom metal windows represent the apex of the contemporary window design style. They can be made of many different types of metal, including bronze, iron, and most popularly, steel. Metal windows are included in the “best” category for their unique attributes:

Durability: Metal windows are incredibly strong, offering excellent longevity and resistance to weather conditions.

Contemporary Style: These materials lend a sleek, modern aesthetic that can dramatically enhance contemporary architectural designs.

Customization: Like wood, a metal window can be custom-made to any size or shape, allowing for complete architectural freedom.

Energy Efficiency: Advances in material technology have improved the insulation properties of some high-end metal window options, although they may still not be as efficient as wood or fiberglass.

The limitations of custom metal or steel windows include their cost, which is often on the higher end due to the level of customization metalworking required.  Additionally, they may not suit every architectural style and typically fit more of a niche in home design.

Custom metal windows add character and quality for a higher cost.

Ready to Find More Inspiration for Your Home Remodel?

Now that you understand more about the good, better, and best window options available to you, do you have a better idea of which one will be best for your remodel? If so, continue gathering inspiration for your remodel by visiting our Home Remodeling Portfolio. There, you can find photos of our past projects to help you identify styles and features you might like as part of your project.

Considering a remodel, but not haven’t yet started designing it? If so, click the button below to schedule a free design consultation with a member of our design team. We’ll help you navigate the challenges of remodeling as we work to turn your current home into your dream home.